Friday, January 21, 2011 “Cool Websites and Tools [January 20th]” plus 22 more “Cool Websites and Tools [January 20th]” plus 22 more

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Cool Websites and Tools [January 20th]

Posted: 20 Jan 2011 07:31 PM PST

Check out some of the latest MakeUseOf discoveries. All listed websites are FREE or come with a decent free account option. You can make use of them without spending a dime. If you want to have similar cool websites round-ups delivered to your email daily email subscribe here.

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Fatpaint – While there are numerous impressive free image editing tools available online, these tools usually fall short of meeting a graphic designer's requirements. As a result, designers opt for a paid installable application. But with Fatpaint, graphic designers get an advanced browser-based image editing and designing tool, a free to use web tool intended to be used by graphic designers. Read more: Fatpaint: Advanced Image Editing, Vector & Paint Application


Chatbadge – Interaction with their site's visitors helps webmasters figure out which parts of the site please or displease the audience. While comments and feedback forms are effective, they are relatively slow when compared to live chatting. To add a live chat feature to your site check out ChatBadge, a web tool that is currently in beta; people who sign up for the beta can use the tool for free forever. Read more: Chatbadge: Add A Live Chat To Your Site



Glancely – If you are a fan of Etsy or like to buy homemade products online, then you should check out Glancely. This website provides instant visual search of products found using Etsy's API so you can browse, search, and buy the products that you like quickly. You can find products by typing a related product in the search bar. You will get several pictures instantly laid out for you. Read more: Glancely: Instant, Visual Search For Homemade Products



Shrib – Saving text files on somebody else's computer is not a wise idea. This is why you should go for online note-taking apps while using the Internet on somebody else's computer. To get the job done quickly and securely, check out the online note-taking app called Shrib, a simple and free web tool. You can type the note into the text area and then quickly save it. Optionally you can save backup copies for your notes in case you want to track changes. Read more: Shrib: Take & Save Notes Online Securely



ItsMyUrls – If you maintain a number of social media profiles and have a hard time keeping track of them all, or maybe you want to aggregate them all on one page to facilitate easy sharing of your online identity, then you should take a look at ItsMyUrls. It creates an online business card with links to all your social profiles, blogs and any other link you want to include. That's not all. Read more: ItsMyUrls: Your Online Identity On One Page (With QR Code)


These are just half of the websites that we discovered in the last couple of days. If you want us to send you daily round-ups of all cool websites we come across, leave your email here. Or follow us via RSS feed.



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How To Find Out If Your Email Address Was Leaked Through Gawker’s Database

Posted: 20 Jan 2011 05:31 PM PST

In December 2010 Gawker Media‘s entire network of websites was affected by an exploit that preyed on both staff and visitors. More than 1.5 million accounts were compromised by the attacks, and users’ email addresses and their respective passwords were posted online for all to see.

If you are an active participant on any of Gawker’s websites then you’ll probably have changed your password by now (hint: do it). However, if you’re not sure whether you’ve contributed any comments and would like to know for sure then you can check your email against the list to get the answer you need. You can then take appropriate action if you’ve fallen foul to the leak.

Why Such A Big Deal?

There’s a reason you’re strongly encouraged to use different passwords for different services. Had you signed up to Gawker’s commenting system with your usual personal email address and used the same password you use to log into said email address then your email and password combination is freely available for all to see.

It has emerged since last month’s attacks that a considerable amount of .gov, .edu and .mil (US military) email addresses were included in the leaked database. If these individuals had used the same password for their email login then government, education and military email addresses would be potentially compromised.

According to the hackers 2,650 used “password” or “qwerty” as a password including one .gov address, three .mil addresses and 52 from .edu addresses.

This is a prime example of how using a variety of passwords can really save your bacon. Should someone gain access to your email account then personal information like online banking or web hosting details is at the mercy of the intruder.

Ok, I’m Sufficiently Scared

Good, so you’ll probably want to check if you’re on the list. As the whole network of sites used the same shared commenting system, every Gawker site was affected. Many of these sites are popular and renowned for breaking news, reviews and their quirky nature.

Outlets include Lifehacker, Gawker (main site), Gizmodo, Kotaku, Fleshbot, io9, Jalopnik, Jezebel and Deadspin. If you have ever made a comment and used your own valid email address then you really should have changed your Gawker password, and any other services that use the same password.

Step 1

To check whether you’ve been affected you’ll first need to change your email address into an MD5 hash, which you can do here. Simply enter your email in full, click md5 and copy the result to your clipboard.

Step 2

With your MD5 saved, go here and click Show Options. From the first drop-down box select MD5 and in the text field paste your MD5 hash and click Apply Filter.

If nothing appears then you’re home dry, your account has not been compromised and you can sleep easy. If you do see a matching row but you’ve changed your password already – no worries, you acted fast.

If you see a matching row and have not changed your password then you’ll want to change your Gawker password and any other passwords that match.

If you need a bit of help coming up with a couple of passwords, we’ve got an article covering that but please be careful and don’t use too many shared passwords.

Did you get stung by Gawkergate? Learned your lesson from shared passwords? Still using “password” as your password? Tell us all about it in the comments below.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

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10 Sexy Wallpapers Your Significant Other Will Approve Of

Posted: 20 Jan 2011 03:31 PM PST

sexy wallpapersThe word sexy is typically associated with being sexually suggestive or stimulating. However, it also means generally attractive or interesting. That in turn can be stimulating on many levels.

Does your desktop wallpaper stimulate you? Do you feel motivated when the same old image greets you each and every time you boot your computer? Maybe it’s time for a change and what could be more exciting than getting a sexy wallpaper?

Horses @ DesktopNexus

Most animals are just cute, but thoroughbred horses are definitely sexy. At DesktopNexus you can choose from over 2,000 horse wallpapers and thousands more of other fascinating wild animals, including sharks and bears.

sexy wallpapers

Resolution and aspect ration are detected automatically. Click here.

Food @ Wallpaper Abyss

Oh yes, food is sexy, just think of 9 1/2 Weeks. And other than strawberries dipped in cream and chocolate ice cream, what could be more sexy than a firm green apple?

free sexy wallpapers

1680 x 10501400 x 10501440 x 9001280 x 10241280 x 9601280 x 8001024 x 768

Visit the apple page for wallpapers with mobile and avatar resolutions.

Franz von Stuck @ Art Wallpaper

You can’t possibly display nudity on your desktop, unless it’s art. I selected a painting called The Sin (Die Sünde) by Franz von Stuck. If this particular artist doesn’t float your boat, you can browse the works of dozens of other artists, including Albrecht Dürer, Rembrandt, Gustav Klimt, Tizian, or Vincent van Gogh.

free sexy wallpapers

1680 x 10501600 x 12001440 x 9001400 x 10501280 x 10241280 x 8001152 x 8641024 x 768800 x 600

Curves @ deviantART

There is no doubt that curves are sexy and so are minimalistic curvy wallpapers. You will find a wide selection at deviantART. Enter your preferred resolution or keyword in the > Search Art text field.

free sexy wallpapers

1920 x 1200

The Eye @ WallpapersCC

Eyes are most certainly sexy! Discover more potential eye wallpapers via Google Images.

eye wallpaper

Visit The Eye Wallpaper page and click the image for a wallpaper that fits to your desktop.

Mac @ Wallpapers-room

With its sleek design and elegant curves a Mac is sexy for sure. So is its logo in any form or shape.

sexy wallpapers for computer

On the left-hand side click the > All resolutions button and pick your desired resolution. Then click the > Download link in the top right corner of the image.

Anime @ Anime Wallpapers

Apparently innocence is very desirable. This explains the huge success of anime. You can tap into this world of fantasy with beautiful and sexy anime wallpapers.

sexy wallpapers for computer

1440 x 900, 1280 x 800, 960 x 600

Nature @ 2desktop

Nature is the true embodiment of sexy. It’s our origin and our destiny. What could be more attractive and interesting than that?

sexy wallpapers for computer

1920 x 1200, 1680 x 1050, 1440 x 900

Motivation @ Goal Setting Guide

Motivation is the driving force behind everything we do. Thus it is sexy because it makes us do all those things that make us attractive, interesting, and desirable.

1920 x 1200, 1280 x 800, 1600 x 1200, 1280 x 1024, 1024 x 768


Girls love cars, too, if they are comfortable, air-conditioned, not too loud, and come in the right color….this is the hot BMW Z4 2011. On the same website you’ll find lots of sexy car wallpapers, sorted by car manufacturer from A to Z.

sexy wallpapers

1920 x 12001600 x 12001280 x 9601024 x 1200

It’s all about the image in your mind. Nobody but you can see what you imagine. So what do you imagine and which wallpaper is your favorite?

Image credits: Karolina L

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CrowdMap Disaster Info & Citizen Reports with Ushahidi

Posted: 20 Jan 2011 01:31 PM PST

citizen reportingWhat do you do when disaster strikes? How do you know what’s going on? How will you know which areas are dangerous and which are safe? These are the questions Ushahidi tries to answer.

When events happen rapidly and on a massive scale, traditional media outlets have some difficulty verifying and transmitting relevant information to people. Emergency situations require current information — and lots of it. Unverified citizen reports of danger can save lives. This is why Ushahidi tries to make it easier for citizens to give these reports and offers free software to facilitate the information.

What Is Ushahidi?

Ushahidi is free open-source software for co-ordinating citizen reports on a national crisis. When there is an emergency, anyone can quickly create an Ushahidi map to co-ordinate the information for the area. It will allow people to see unverified reports on a map and a timeline, so they can get information quickly.

citizen reporting

Ushahidi means “Testimony” in Swahili and was originally created to track post-election violence in Kenya in 2008. Here’s a quick video on Ushahidi and its uses.

Anyone can download, adjust and use the Ushahidi code to make a visualisation of useful crowd-sourced information. But if you prefer to have something hosted for you, Ushahidi is available to use free in the cloud via CrowdMap. This means you can set up a free disaster-tracking map in minutes.

How Can You Make Use Of Ushahidi?

Disaster efforts which have been tracked through Ushahidi already include Snowmageddon, crime in Atlanta, London tube strikes, floods in Australia and more. For future emergencies, you can expect there will be an Ushahidi map created to co-ordinate relief efforts.

disaster information

These maps can be used to collect any crowd-sourced information, though. Ushahidi might also see a future outside of disaster situations, such as collecting information on public art, festival happenings, garage sales, environmental monitoring or other interesting mappable data.

disaster information

Once you set up a deployment in either CrowdMap or a self-hosted Ushahidi instance, you can collect information via SMS, email, website, online news, Twitter hashtags and smartphone applications. Your map is publicly viewable, so everyone can see the data collected on the map and timeline.

disaster information

As the person who set up the map, you’re also able to view website statistics collected with Google Analytics.

disaster report

Ushahidi Applications On SmartPhones

The Ushahidi application is available free for all popular smartphone types. Here’s links to the iPhone/iPad and the Android application.

The phone can record accurate location data for your reports. If you’re unable to connect to the Internet it is able to take your report and upload it later when you have Internet access.

The iOS application has far more options than the Android application. With the Android application, you need to know the URL of the map you want to follow and you can only get reports for one map at a time. Whereas the iOS application allows multiple maps to be monitored and it lets you download a map for offline use. It even has a discrete option which pops up a browser if you shake the phone (useful for sensitive information, like election reporting).

disaster report

Submitting & Tracking Crisis Information

If there is an emergency, you can get hold of the Ushahidi application for your smartphone, then easily upload photos or text updates of events you’ve witnessed. You can also track any relevant map online or offline to keep abreast of the local situation.

disaster report

If you don’t have a smartphone, you can send SMS updates, email, tweet using the map’s hashtag or upload information via the relevant website.

Thoughts On Ushahidi/CrowdMaps

Due to the simplicity of using CrowdMaps there will be lots of new users making maps for all sorts of things. This will be both good and bad, since it increases the wealth of public information, but also makes finding that information more difficult.

It would be best if Ushahidi could also use your location to try to find maps with local information for you. If there’s too many there, Ushahidi will need to add relevance filters so you can find the important ones.

In an emergency situation, I doubt everyone will follow protocol and check for maps already made — it’s more likely you’ll wind up with more than one map tracking the same things. Hopefully Ushahidi will add a “hey, it looks like there might already be a map for this” checking feature to help people avoid double-ups.

citizen reporting

Overall, I’m thoroughly impressed with Ushahidi and CrowdMaps. It makes crowd-sourcing geographical data quick, easy and free. There’s power in that sort of community facilitation.

More Mapping

If you’re into maps, you’ll love these articles:

With all these great map ideas to choose from, what will you use Ushahidi for?

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Hot Tech Deals [Jan 20th]

Posted: 20 Jan 2011 12:15 PM PST

If you’re in the market for a new computer, laptop, mobile phone, games and other accessories; don’t waste your time searching online. We’ve taken the liberty of locating the best tech deals and unifying them into a single post for your convenience.

For more fresh hot deals, visit our Hot Tech Deals page, which is constantly updated.

  1. OtterBox Cases Exclusive Coupon Code 10% off + Free Shipping via code tb0111m (Exp 3/31)
  2. 10% off HDTVs at Beach Camera eBay Store via code CBEACHCAMTV2011 (Exp 2/4)
  3. 10% off HDTVs at Electronics Express eBay Store via code CELECTEXPRESSTV (Exp 2/4)
  4. 10% off HDTVs at Electronics Expo eBay Store via code CELECTEXPOTV (Exp 2/4)
  5. Lenovo IdeaPad Y460 Intel Core i3-380M 2.53GHz 14in Laptop (4GB/500GB) $399 via code TOPRATEDPCS (Exp Soon)
  6. OCZ Rally 2 32GB Dual Channel USB Flash Drive (35MB/s Read; 15MB/s write) $32.49AR Free Shipping via code USB15OFF (Exp 1/21)

Image credit: Modified from Svengraph’s icon set

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News RSS Ticker: An Elegant News Ticker For Windows & Linux

Posted: 20 Jan 2011 11:31 AM PST

free news tickerStay up to date without turning on the television. If all you look at when watching cable news is the ticker at the bottom of the screen, RSS Ticker is for you. This Linux and Windows application takes any RSS feed and gives you an attractive free news ticker on your screen, showing you the headlines you care about. By default it shows you BBC headlines, but the application can make use of any RSS feed on Planet Earth.

Staying up-to-the-minute isn’t important for everyone, but if it is for you I highly recommend this app for the job. Last year we highlighted four good free desktop news ticker apps. Some were specific to a certain news outlet, some were complex, but none combined the customizable simplicity of News RSS Ticker. This application allows you to see the headlines from any news organization in real time, on your terms.

Using News RSS Ticker

Launch this nifty app and you’ll see your news ticker:

free news ticker

By default the news is coming from the BBC, which isn’t an altogether bad source to start with. International news is always a good thing.

If you’re anything like me, you’ll be annoyed by the speed of this ticker by default. Don’t panic; you can change this. Click the question mark to the left of the ticker; this will pull up the menu. From here you can find the option to slow down the ticker:

free downloadable news ticker

As you can see, you can also restart the feed. This is good if you miss a particular story.

Click a headline and your default browser will open, giving you access to the full story. This is nice if a particular headline grabs your attention.

Want to open another RSS feed? You’ll find the option to do so in the menu. This is a great way to keep up with the latest news from a particular organization.

It’s also worth noting that you can add text files to this ticker. If you’re looking for a hilarious distraction, I recommend downloading The Devil’s Dictionary, a hilarious satirical dictionary by author Ambrose Bierce. Although you could easily imagine your own uses for this functionality.


You can customize most aspects of this RSS Ticker. You can, for example, change the colors and the default RSS feed. You can also set the positioning and more:

free news ticker

Explore the settings to get a feel for what’s possible, but you can essentially make the application look however you want.

Download The Application

Windows and Linux users should head on over to to download this application. Linux users will find Ubuntu/Debian packages by default, with other options lower down on the download page. Windows users will find the usual installation package, complete with multiple “Next” buttons.


These kinds of free news ticker apps can be distracting, but can also be useful from time to time. Do you have a favorite use for applications like this? Share it below. Also feel free to recommend alternative applications for keeping up with the news.

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Turn An Old Computer Into A Star Trek Clock With LCARS 24

Posted: 20 Jan 2011 10:31 AM PST

lcars interfaceIt’s pretty much a given that many computer and technology geeks are also huge fans of Star Trek. Science fiction and technology go hand in hand, and the capabilities of the Enterprise computer system left folks dreaming about the day when computers could behave that way.

There’s plenty of evidence here at MUO that we’re Trek fans. I once wrote an article about getting Trek sounds for your computer. Guy covered a search tool called Wolfram that can give you more information about a subject than you’d ever imagine, just like the Star Trek computer. Then there was Saikat’s article about the 10 best Trek websites. Seriously, if you’re a Trek fan, MUO has you covered.

There’s another very cool Trek tool that was fairly popular back in the days of DOS (1990s) called LCARS 24. It’s fallen by the wayside as the world evolved all the way through Windows 7. However, with Windows 7 comes the invention of DOSBox, and with DOSBox, we can once again revive those old favorites. In this case I’m going to show you how you can use the LCARS 24 app with an old PC to create your own bedside computer just like the one on Star Trek.

Installing LCARS 24 In DOSBox

If you have an old computer with DOS on it, you really don’t have to worry about this step. However, if you want to use your Windows 7 laptop as your own personal Star Trek computer, then you can do so. Just go ahead and install DOSBox to your machine, if you haven’t already. Once you do that, download the LCARS 24 files to a new folder on your c: drive. Mount that directory in DOSBox using the “mount c c:\LCARS” command. Then, from within DOSBox, go to that directory and run Install.bat.

lcars interface

After an installation procedure that takes about two to five minutes, depending on the speed of your computer, the installation will complete. Then, you can run the app just by typing “LCARS24.EXE.”

The first thing you’ll notice is a large alarm clock screen with today’s date and time. The main screen of “computer” also includes a monthly calendar display and an alarm. Running on an old DOS machine, this will be one of the most advanced alarm clocks you’ll ever own!


You can start to see just how much information is available in this tool when you press F7 to view the world map. You’ll see a view of the entire world with the current time laid out in each time zone. Scroll across with the arrow keys to set the time zone you want the computer to use. You’ll notice as you scroll and navigate screens that all of the sounds and effects are pretty much authentic Trek – you’ll instantly recognize the classic computer voice.

star trek lcars

From the main screen, press F8 to get to your phonebook where you can list all of your phone numbers for quick reference. When the list gets unmanageably long, there’s a “find” feature that’ll help you find your contacts.

star trek lcars

If you select Files (F3), you’ll see the “storage” area where all of your saved files are. Upon installing the LCARS24, there’s a lot of pre-installed files.

star trek lcars

You’ll find things like images and diagrams of Star Trek ships, images and details about space, space exploration, and a lot more. It’s perfect as a bedside clock because if you need something to read you’ve got volumes of information built in!

star trek lcars desktop themes

My favorite area of LCARS 24 is the “Program” page (F4 from the main page). Here you’ll find an assortment of some of the coolest apps, including games like Chess and Crosswords, and even the original Tetris!

star trek lcars desktop themes

Another program you’ll find that might be helpful if you’re monitoring your weight and health is the Body-Mass Index Calculator. Just enter your height and current weight, and it’ll show you where you fall within the BMI scale.

star trek lcars desktop themes

Yet another useful program built right into this “alarm clock” is the Math Service. On this page you can type in any complex math formula you like, and the program will solve it for you. Consider it like a text-based scientific calculator.

lcars interface

Maybe it’s just me, but the idea of setting up a small, older-model laptop on my bedside table with this Star Trek computer running constantly as a bedside alarm clock is the coolest idea.

As you can see above, you can run the app on your Windows 7 machine as a personal organizer and desktop clock if you want to, but it really shines when you install it on an old machine and just let it run. It’ll be one of the most advanced alarm clocks you’ll ever own. And if you’re a Trekkie, you’ll wake up every morning with a smile.

Give LCARS 24 a try and let us know what you think. Is it authentic and true to the Trek computer? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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7 Reasons You Might Consider Upgrading To Firefox 4

Posted: 20 Jan 2011 09:30 AM PST

upgrading firefoxThe Firefox web browser has featured prominently in the browser wars of the past decade, and the latest incarnation of our furry friend, version 4, is tentatively scheduled for a late-February launch. We first brought you news of the Firefox 4 beta in July 2010, and now that the features that will be included have been finalized, what might make you want to upgrade if you currently use Internet Explorer, Chrome, Safari or any other browser?

Let’s look at some of the individual “game changing” reasons why you might consider upgrading.


Firefox 4 improves over the speed of Firefox 3 in a number of different areas. They have rebuilt the javascript engine from the ground up, giving noticeable performance improvements specifically on script intensive sites such as Gmail.

firefox upgrade 4

Not only have the rendering times improved, but the overall speed of the browser was a major goal of this version. Your 3D graphics card is also used to assist in rendering web pages. On an older computer, I had given up using Firefox 3 because of the slowness of it – Chrome was the only way I found to speed up browsing. Loading Firefox 4 on this machine gives me at least anecdotal evidence that the speed of the browser itself has improved greatly; and it is now bearable even on older systems.

Who might want to upgrade? Users of slower PCs who had given up on Firefox because of slowness.


upgrading firefox to 4The new Firefox 4 organizes Javascript programs into compartments, further proving that Firefox takes your security concerns seriously. Moving away from Internet Explorer to just about any browser is an improvement over your personal security, but Firefox 4 has taken this to another level.

Since Firefox 4 is open source, the codebase is available for review by anyone. As with any web browser security flaws are often found and fixed – but since Firefox is more open about this I give them an edge over Internet Explorer or Safari.

Who might want to upgrade because of security? Internet Explorer holdouts.

The Cloud

firefox upgrade 4

Firefox 4 now integrates ‘cloud’ synchronization of bookmarks, passwords, preferences, history and tabs. If you choose to use this function you can have the above synchronized between Firefox browsers on different computers – and that includes Firefox on Android and iOS devices.

An oft-cited use for cloud sync is looking up directions on your desktop, then while on the road you bring up Firefox mobile and your browser with directions is already open and synced. Although I think this does have a great convenience factor, privacy is an issue you would have to consider whether you want to use this feature or not.

Who might want to upgrade? Anyone who browses the web constantly in multiple locations.

HTML5 Support

firefox upgrade 4

We have seen some of the cool things you can do with HTML5 and Firefox 4 supports these just as with many other new browsers. One thing that Firefox will do that the others can not (as of yet) is the Indexed DB function which is related to offline storage of online data.

To see browser HTML5 capabilities compared check out HTML5 readiness.

Who might want to upgrade? Web standards geeks and designers.


firefox upgrade 4The private browsing option, which is a mode where your history, clicks and cache are not saved; now takes a more prominent place in the Firefox tab ecosystem. The Firefox team has also taken it upon themselves to fix a privacy flaw in CSS which let sites know which other sites you had been visiting.

This, along with the great Security and Privacy addons available for Firefox, make it one of the most privacy capable browsers currently available.

Who might want to upgrade? Anyone concerned about privacy on the web, EFF members.

New Looks

upgrading firefoxTab groups, a new UI, and other small enhancements have refreshed the Firefox interface. In my opinion, it has finally moved away from its Mozilla days and have entered a new era. It is minimalist, using all available space at the top to let your web pages take up the maximum amount of screen.

Tabs can also be pinned to the opened tab list, turning them into permanent App Tabs.

Who may want to upgrade? Those tired of the looks of their old web browser.


upgrading firefoxFirefox (and Mozilla before it) have always had the best plugins available anywhere. Firefox 4 is no different, and many major addons are already compatible with version 4. Firefox’s wide range of addons give you the ability to do just about anything with the browser, from adding extra security to turning it into a kid-friendly experience.

Who might want to upgrade? Anyone who loves to tweak their browser and really get the most out of it.

In Summary…

Firefox 4 is a pretty big advancement over the old versions. There are tons of smaller features that are also in this version and from what I saw of beta 9 it is almost ready for release and is perfectly stable. If you want to be ahead of the curve, check out Firefox 4 beta today and keep an eye out for the final release towards the end of February 2011!

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How To Reface Your Facebook Profile Using FB Photo Magic

Posted: 20 Jan 2011 08:31 AM PST

fb photo magicFacebook has decided that all of its users’ account will be upgraded to the new profile, which was introduced last December. Even though not everybody likes the arrangement that comes with the new profile, the new layout opens up to some cool “hacking” possibilities.

It’s said that Alexandre Oudin – a French artist – was the first one who explored the possibilities of creatively “refacing” the new profile page. Since then, many people have come up with their own version of a personalized profile page. As the refacing process required some skills in photo editing and the tenacity to find the perfect arrangement, most of us couldn’t (or wouldn’t) join in the craze. But that was in the past. Today, everything can be done easily in a few steps with the help of an online tool called FB Photo Magic.

Let’s Create Some Magic

If you want to join all the cool kids on Facebook, why don’t you try to reface your own profile page? Go to the FB Photo Magic website and click the “Start” button.

fb photo magic

Click “Choose File” to pick the picture that you want to upload and then click “Upload Photo“. Based on my experiment, it’s advisable to pre-process the photo prior to uploading it. Not only will you get the portion of the image that you want, but you will also get a smaller size compared to the original picture.

facebook photo magic

The first thing that you will notice after the uploading process is the drop down list of “Text lines“. This list asks you to choose one of the numbers according to how many lines there are on your profile page.

facebook photo magic

To get the figure, go to your profile page and count the lines under your name next to your profile picture.

photomagic on facebook

Then you can set the image template. You can resize the box and move it around.  The parts of the picture under the white boxes are the ones that will show up on your profile page. Adjust the boxes’ position so that they will overlay portions of the image that you want to show.

photomagic on facebook

Click the “Save” button at the top right corner of the page, then continue by clicking “Upload to Facebook“.

photomagic on facebook

A confirmation window will open, asking you to allow FB Photo Magic to access your Facebook account.

01h Request For Permission.jpg

When everything is done, you’ll see the success message along with quick instructions on how to set everything up.

01j Upload Success.jpg

Completing The Process

Now we are a few steps away before we finish the refacing process. To complete the journey, log into your Facebook account and go to the “Photos” page by clicking on the link in the sidebar under the profile picture. Then open the FB Photo Magic album.

02a FB Photos.jpg

Inside the album, you will see a set of “puzzle” photos that you’ve just created. Click on the last picture to open it. This last picture is the largest picture on the left that will be your profile picture.

02b The Last Picture.jpg

Go to the lower part of the photo page and click on the link “Make Profile Picture“.

facebook photo magic

Then click “Okay” in the confirmation window.

02d Confirm.jpg

And you’re done.

Just for the sake of the experiment, I created another set of profile pictures using my daughter’s photo, activated it, and decided to keep the result (she’s a lot more photogenic than I!)

fb photo magic

An Alternative And Few Notes

FB Photo Magic is not the only application that you can use to reface your Facebook profile page. Another alternative that I found is Schweppes Profile App. The working process is similar to FB Photo Magic. However, during my experiment, I was always stuck on the “uploading to Facebook” step. But feel free to try it, maybe you’ll have better luck.

Please note that even though I used FB Photo Magic with several images without any problem, one of the profile images that I got was distorted. So if you get distorted image, you could repeat the process or use alternative images. Use the “Preview” feature before uploading the result to Facebook.

Since the images shown on your profile page are actually images tagged with your name, it’s possible that the set that you created is replaced by more recent set of images also tagged with your name. If this happens, you could hover above the images that you don’t want and click on the “X” to close them. Doing this will not erase the images. You just keep them off your profile page.

I found that refacing my Facebook profile page is fun. You should try it yourself and enjoy the time when your friends beg you to tell them how to do it!

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QNAP TS-419P+ Turbo NAS Review and Giveaway

Posted: 20 Jan 2011 08:00 AM PST

Yesterday, we looked at Netgear’s ReadyNAS Ultra 4 and were impressed with its throughput performance. The day before, we loved how Synology’s DS411j and its gorgeous GUI stole the limelight. And before that, we were all taken with the Drobo FS and its ease of use. So today, how about we feature a NAS that does all of this collectively?

The device that we’ll be looking at today is the QNAP TS-419P+ Turbo NAS. It’s only available as a diskless system and priced at $599, it isn’t exactly cheap. However, if you were thinking about getting a NAS, you really should read this article because this particular model could be just what you were looking for. Not to mention, we will be giving the review unit away.

So hop in.

The QNAP TS-419P+ is targeted towards prosumers and features 4 hot-swappable drive bays, a Marvell 6282 1.6 GHZ processor, 512 MB DDR2 memory, dual gigabit ethernet ports, 4 USB ports, 2 eSATA ports and a whole lot of mojo. Did you notice the eSATA and dual ethernet ports? That’s what gives the TS-419P+ the advantage over the other NAS devices we’ve reviewed over the past 3 days.

At the front, it sports the 4 aforementioned drive bays, a USB port and a corresponding backup button for easy one-touch backup, a LCD panel and 2 control buttons. The LCD panel allows you to check its status, IP address, and administer the system — either power it down or perform a restart. It sports a brushed aluminium body, which is very classy indeed.


At the back, is where the magic happens. You’ll find 2 eSATA ports, which was not available on the other 3 NAS devices we reviewed. Plus, it’s got 1 more USB port than the Netgear ReadyNAS Ultra 4. Along with that, and perhaps the most interesting part of the QNAP is the dual ethernet interface, which supports network teaming. We spoke about network teaming yesterday in the Netgear ReadyNAS Ultra 4 review (where sadly, it is not supported) but in case you missed it, here’s a quick recap. Teaming or trunking is the ability to combine 2 network interfaces together, resulting in a single, faster connection to the router. There are various modes of network teaming and here’s what the TS-419P+ supports:

  • Balance-rr (Round-Robin)
  • Active Backup
  • Balance XOR
  • Broadcast
  • IEEE 802.3ad
  • Balance-tlb (Adaptive Transmit Load Balancing)
  • Balance-alb (Adaptive Load Balancing)

So far, things are looking good for the TS-419P+. Its hardware specs are enough to please any prosumer.



Since the TS-419P+ is a diskless system, you must first have your own hard drives. Currently, the largest capacity drive that the device is able to accommodate is 2 TB. View the complete compatibility list here.

To install the drives, simply remove the drive trays from the bays at the front and screw the drives onto the trays. Push them back into the device and power it on.

Like all NAS devices, the QNAP TS-419P+ comes with its own dashboard/detection application on a CD called QNAP Finder which is cross platform. You may also download it from their website. Once the application is installed, it will automatically detect any QNAP NAS devices on your network and assist you in logging into the web-based GUI.

Screen shot 2011-01-20 at 4.56.39 PM.png

Clicking on Configure will begin the initiation process.

Screen shot 2010-11-29 at 10.17.11 PM.png

Initialising the drives is a 6-step process where you will be asked to set a name for the device, an administrative password, the time zone, the services you require, and finally, the RAID array configuration. The TS-419P+ is capable of RAID 0, 1, 5, 6, 5+ hot spare; and JBOD. It also supports the newer EXT4 file system. After customising the device to your preference, it takes roughly about 15 minutes for the entire system to be online and ready for use.

Logging into the administration web-based AJAX GUI is simple if you know the device’s IP address. Open a browser of your choice and type in its IP address. If not, use the QNAP Finder to locate your device, then click on Connect.

Screen shot 2010-12-14 at 7.22.18 PM.png

Like the Synology, QNAP’s web interface is pretty good although it doesn’t support multi-tasking. The GUI is easy to manoeuvre and quite responsive. It also provides an easy, one-touch solution to enable various functions like Apple Time Machine support, a file server, web server, backup server, iTunes server, print server, media centre, torrent download centre, webcam surveillance support, the list goes on.

The TS-419P+ also has several advanced options like UPS support and power management, among others. In addition to that, the system allows for even more features like a Twonkymedia server, Squeezebox server, PS3 media server, Joomla and WordPress installations via its QPKG system.


With its hot-swappable front access drive bays, the TS-419P+ could not be easier to upgrade or expand. Plus, the system supports on-the-fly RAID level migration. This means that upgrading from a 2-disk to 4-disk system is a walk in the park.


Every setting imaginable is easily accessible from the GUI; from the RAID array configuration, access management, disk quota distribution and file services to backup settings. There is also a built-in search function to allow you to easily find the setting that you’re looking for.

The GUI also provides a means to keep an eye on the system, displaying vital information like the system and hard disk temperatures, and their S.M.A.R.T. statuses.

Screen shot 2010-12-14 at 7.23.34 PM.png


The QNAP TS-419P+ is, in every aspect, quite capable. With features like network teaming and on-the-fly RAID migration, a geek couldn’t ask for more.

QNAP TS-419P+ Turbo NAS may be purchased from online retailers like Newegg at $569.99. But we’re giving this one away. If you’d like to get your hands on it, here’s what you need to do.

How do I become a winner?

It’s simple, just follow the instructions.

Join our Facebook page by clicking the Like button or you can follow us on Twitter, if you prefer. If you’re already following us, you may skip this step.

If you can’t see the fanbox, click on this link.

Here’s our giveaway form. Please fill it in accurately. Be sure to enter your real name and email address so that we can get in touch if you are chosen as a winner. Click here if you can’t view the form.

You’re almost done. Now, all that’s left to do is to share the post. There are 2 options to choose from or you can do both!

Like it on Facebook

Or share it on Twitter

And that’s it! You’re done!
Giveaway eligibility
You must be a fan of our Facebook page to enter;
Individuals who are over the age of 18. If you are under 18, get your parents to participate on your behalf;
Individuals who reside in a country embargoed by the United States; Belgium, Norway, Sweden, or India are not permitted to enter.

This giveaway begins now and ends Friday, February 18th at 2100hrs PST. The winners will be selected at random and announced via email.

Spread the word to your friends and have fun!

MakeUseOf would like to thank QNAP for their generosity while participating in this giveaway. Interesting in sponsoring? We’d love to hear from you. Get in touch with us via email.

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How To Move A Full Operating System From An Old PC To A New One

Posted: 20 Jan 2011 07:31 AM PST

move operating system to new hard driveBuying a new desktop or laptop computer is always good geeky fun. Although computers have generally accelerated beyond the level needed for mere “adequate” use, the performance wars haven't calmed down in the slightest. New PCs also often have cool features like touchscreens.

The only problem with buying a new PC – one that has existed for years and that hardware technology can't solve – is when you want to move the operating system to your new hard drive. Simply copying your operating system from one hard drive to another doesn't work, and trying to install your old hard disk into your new PC may result in issues as well. There is a solution to this issue, however.

Making Your Clone

move operating system to new hard drive

Operating systems are finicky beasts. They don't like to be copied directly over to a new hard drive, and the operating system on your new PC will most certainly won’t let you copy over it (at least as long as it's running). There's good reason for this, in terms of curtailing security threats and preventing accidental operating system damage, but it certainly makes moving a full operating system more difficult.

Since copying operating system files the old-fashioned way doesn't result in a bootable operating system being transferred over, you'll need to rely on a process called cloning. Cloning a hard drive replicates all or some of the files on it and also replicates the file structure of the hard drive. This creates a perfect bootable copy. Other MakeUseOf authors have discussed this topic already, so check out Tina's post about popular freeware cloning software and Benjamin's post about how to clone a hard drive with Clonezilla.

Cloning Problems

how to move operating system to another drive

Unfortunately, while cloning does create a perfect copy of your hard drive and the operating system on it, it isn't always the best solution. The process of cloning is itself a bit complex, and it will presumably require that you at some point have an extra hard drive, since directly cloning your existing drive to the drive on your new PC would wipe out the new PC's drive entirely.

The other issue with cloning is that creating a perfect copy does not guarantee that your old operating system will work with your new PC. When an operating system installs itself on a PC, it also installs a plethora of drivers relating to your PC's hardware. If you transfer your existing OS to a new PC, much of that hardware is going to be different – and that can be a shock to your OS. It will have drivers for certain hardware, but that hardware is gone. It will try to compensate by installing new drivers automatically, but if it can't find the right drivers it will likely crash.

You may be able to repair the operating system if you still have the install disc around, or can load the installer onto another bootable device, but this can be a frustrating process.

Transferring Files

how to move operating system to another drive

If cloning sounds like too much work, or you've tried it and found that it failed, you can forgo trying to transfer the entire operating system and instead transfer only your files and system settings.

Windows has a utility for this called Windows Easy Transfer. As the name implies, the goal of the software is to transfer everything from your old PC to your new PC that could easily be lost. It doesn't transfer software, but it does transfer documents, photos, music, program settings, etc. Once the process is complete, your new PC should behave much as the old one did, and should have all of your personal files as well.

move operating system to new hard drive

The Windows Easy Transfer software is free, but a direct USB connection between computers requires that you buy a Windows Easy Transfer Cable. You can skip this, however, by connecting two computers via a network and transferring files that way. A direct Ethernet connection is usually quickest.

Linux users can accomplish this same task by using a utility called Rsync. Apple users aren't left out in the cold, either – OS X comes with a utility called Migration Assistant that will help you transfer files to your new Mac from an old one.


Personally, I don't recommend that most users go with cloning, although it is the only option that results in a true full operating system transfer. Utilities that transfer all critical system information and your personal files usually give you a better result – they transfer important data, but don't leave room for driver compatibility issues that could cause crashes.

Let us know if you have done this, and if so, what method you chose to go with.   How did it go?

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Cool Websites and Tools [January 19th]

Posted: 19 Jan 2011 07:31 PM PST

Check out some of the latest MakeUseOf discoveries. All listed websites are FREE or come with a decent free account option. You can make use of them without spending a dime. If you want to have similar cool websites round-ups delivered to your email daily email subscribe here.

Add Your Website Here!


QR-Code Business Cards – 2D barcodes (also known as QR codes) have become incredibly useful. While it first became popular in Japan and their smartphones, it is also now widely used by Blackberry to register contacts and by Google's Android to install apps, send music, images, URLs and more. Now you can add your contact information in 2D barcode to your business card with QR-Code Business Cards. Read more: QR-Code Business Cards: Generate Business Cards With QR Codes


Pepbot – A number of websites require you to provide your email address and register for an account before you can use the site's services. Afterwards many of these websites will send you useless spam emails. This is why instead of actual emails, temporary disposable email addresses should be used for site signups. If you are looking for a temporary email provider, check out Pepbot. Read more: Pepbot: Temporary Email Provider Online



Connect A Sketch – While there are advanced designing tools available online, when quickly noting down a design idea, a pen and paper work best. While drawing your idea on a page, it might span multiple pages. To share share your sketches with others online, check out a website called Connect a Sketch, a web service currently in beta and free to use. Read more: Connectasketch: Upload & Share Your Sketches Online – While file sharing websites like MegaUpload and Rapidshare rule the market, there is always room for better alternatives. One of them is This online sharing tool offers the basics with added features like real-time sharing, and real-time statistics. With, you do not need to wait for your upload to finish before others users download them, thanks to the cool direct-sharing feature that prioritizes uploads as they are requested. Read more: File Sharing In Real Time



Krrb – is a site to help people buy goods being sold by people in their area. It's like a local classified site for your neighborhood, except that it has a nice design, uses a lot of pictures and looks better than any other such marketplaces. You can search by entering your street address, or just the location. Results can be filtered by tags, date, price and best match. There's also a slider to help you narrow down the results by distance. Read more: Krrb: Your Neighborhood Marketplace


These are just half of the websites that we discovered in the last couple of days. If you want us to send you daily round-ups of all cool websites we come across, leave your email here. Or follow us via RSS feed.



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How To Create Speech Bubbles For Screenshots In GIMP

Posted: 19 Jan 2011 05:31 PM PST

create speech bubbles gimpPreviously we have looked at some tutorials for anyone, new or advanced, to try his/her hand at creating artwork in GIMP because it CAN accomplish phenomenal works, especially in conjunction with other open-source software. Here’s a fun tutorial to cartoonify photos in GIMP (like you see in ads all over the web), here’s another one on creating image maps, and there’s also one on creating a zoom effect on screenshots. I’m certainly really excited about GIMP if you can’t tell already.

As a GIMP enthusiast, I learn mostly from following online tutorials over and over till I don’t need the instructions to repeat the steps anymore. That’s how I learned to do the zoom/magnifier effect, which I badly needed for some of my screenshots. Here’s another such tutorial that’s out of necessity for anyone that blogs and needs to point at and annotate some part of the screenshot.

The speech bubble design is actually inspired by the annotations you can get in Screenpresso, which means that if you want a faster way to get these speech bubbles, your best bet would be to download and use Screenpresso. I’m enamored with FastStone Screen Capture v. 5.3 so to avoid having two programs that do the same thing, I decided to just create the speech bubbles with GIMP. Here’s what I found works for me in terms of creating these speech bubbles in a relatively short time.

  • Once you have GIMP open, you can either open the screenshot that you want to annotate, paste it from after pressing PrintScreen or create one by going to File > Create > Screenshot.
  • Using the Text tool, create the annotation text in your desired size and font.
  • Before creating the actual speech bubble, make sure you have your text in the desired layout (preferably, all polished up with your desired gradients or effects) as we now need to enclose it within the bubble and won’t be able to change the text layout later. Create a new layer, name it ‘bubble’ and under Layer Fill Type, pick Transparency, and click OK. Now pick the Rectangle Select tool, double-check that in the Tool Options dialog box, the mode is set to ‘Replace the current selection‘ and create a rectangle around your text. For a nice touch, also check the ‘Rounded corners‘ box under Tool Options. I’m using a radius of 11.6, but feel free to change it according to your preferences.

create speech bubbles gimp

  • Now we’re going to make the tail of the speech bubble to point to the interesting part of the screenshot that you annotated. Use the Free Select tool, then under Tool Options, pick ‘Add to selection‘ instead of the default … and click on 3 different spots (try to make the lines as straight as you can) before going back to the original point to finish the selection to shape the triangular tail of the speech bubble. The first and last spot should be inside the bubble.

gimp speech bubble

If you want to undo these lines, just press Escape.

  • Use the Bucket Fill tool, set opacity on 35 under Tool Options and fill with red (I’m using #f41010) or any other bright color that’s not on the screenshot already so viewers can immediately notice the bubble.

gimp speech bubble

  • Now let’s give this bubble a drop shadow. Go to Filters > Light and Shadow > Drop Shadow.

gimp speech bubble

  • Set both Offset X and Offset Y to 0, leave the Blur radius to the default 15, raise the Opacity to 100 and uncheck the Allow resizing box before clicking OK.

  • Now for the bubble’s glow, create a new layer with transparency, just like we did for the bubble, but name it “glow”. You should still have the selection active from the previous drop shadow step. Go to Select > To Path to save this outline.
  • Then use the Rectangle Select tool, and under Tool Options, make sure the mode is set to ‘Subtract from the current selection‘. Create a rectangle over the bubble portion opposite to the one that has the tail, which in my case, is the upper portion of the bubble.

make speech bubble gimp

  • Now use the Blend/Gradient tool, press X to shift the white background color to be the foreground color, set the opacity to 80 under Tool Options, select ‘FG to Transparent‘ in the Gradient field, pick Linear in the Shape field if it’s not there by default already, and stroke from the tail to the side opposite to the tail.

make speech bubble gimp

  • Now for the subtle, glowy outline, go to Select > From Path. Then go to Select again > Shrink. Set the shrink size to 1 pixel, if it’s not already, and press OK.

make speech bubble gimp

  • For the third time, go to Select > Border. Type 1 pixel as the border selection size and press OK.

  • You probably won’t even notice any changes so you’ll need to either press + (Shift and the = key), go to View > Zoom (100%) > Zoom In, or use the bottom left zoom menu on the status bar, until you get to 300%.

  • Now grab the Blend/Gradient tool again. Assuming white is still the foreground color and the gradient is still set to ‘FG to Transparent‘, pick Radial instead of the default Linear from the drop-down menu in the Shape field.

  • Stroke outward from the middle of the top portion (or whichever is opposite the tail) of the bubble selection.

  • You should now see a slight white line fading into the corner. You can press Ctrl + Z to undo and Ctrl + Y to redo to really see the difference. Optionally, stroke from the top left to the center of the bubble.

  • This second stroke can actually be in any corner of the bubble as long as it’s on the opposite side of the tail. To go back to the normal view, either press 1, use the zoom menu on the status bar or go to View > Zoom (300%) > 1:1 (100%). Then go to Select > None.
  • Move the text layer by drag and dropping to the top of the layer box. You can merge down any layers to move them around.

  • This is how the end result could look like, without the optional second stroke.

create speech bubbles gimp

That’s it! If you have any tips on making these steps shorter, let us know in the comments!

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6 Of The Best Shopping Sites For The Coolest Gadgets

Posted: 19 Jan 2011 03:31 PM PST

best shopping sitesIs there a special geek in your life? Do you find yourself at a loss when it comes to presents? Well hopefully this year you’ll be able to get them something uber cool, provided you know where to look.

The following are the best shopping sites that specialize in the geekiest, funkiest and sometimes stupidest gadgets for boys and girls, old and young. So if you’re shopping for yourself, a loved one just a friend you’re bound to find something that fits.

Fire up your browser and dig out your wallet – it’s time to put it on plastic.

I Want One Of Those

A very fitting name, considering the selection of products on offer. I Want One Of Those (or IWOOT for short) is a UK-based gadget company who have been trading online for over 10 years. On offer is a decent selection of toys and gadgets, as well as home wares, photo gifts and an old-school retro section.

best shopping sites

If you’re really stumped, the website’s gift finder (on the left side of the homepage) is bound to help you pick that perfect prezzie. The company ships worldwide for a fee of £9.95 (about $15), with reduced delivery rates to mainland Europe.


Certainly one of the more established geek-oriented web stores online, ThinkGeek has had it all sewn up for years. The startling array of weird and wonderful gifts (like this insane breathable chocolate) can be shipped anywhere in the world, though cost (and customs duties) will depend on what you’re buying and where it’s going.

best online shopping gadgets

The company now also offers a reward scheme called Geek Points, which accrue with each purchase. You can then save or spend your points on one of the many rewards available.


Not so much of a shopping website as a deal website, Woot! highlights one deal a day and sticks to it. The item on sale will always be in stock and generally ships within 3 business days (but only to the continental United States, sad face).

online shopping sites

Despite the uh… limited selection, Woot! keeps visitors coming back with unmissable deals. Once the item on sale is sold out – it’s gone. You’ll have to wait till midnight (central time) for the next item to take its place on the virtual shelf.


Only open to UK residents (the US branch closed down so they could focus on the other side of the pond) but certainly worth a mention, eBuyer sell a huge range of laptops, desktops, tablets, netbooks, peripherals and components.

online shopping sites gadgets

There’s also a decent selection of lifestyle gadgets including cameras and MP3 players, and not to mention a gaming section with both consoles and games. You can have your order the next day if you order before 11pm, perfect if you do most of your online shopping after dark.


Toys, gadgets, gifts and all things fun are available from this UK and US serving online retailer. The UK site also doubles up as an international store, allowing delivery worldwide (calculated at checkout). You can switch between stores at the top right of the homepage.

online shopping sites

Firebox sells similar products to IWOOT and ThinkGeek, though each store has its own offers, favourites and niches. If you can’t find anything you like then you can always check out everything currently available (steady on, it’s a big page to load).


If you can’t find the perfect gadget then you could always try making it instead. MakerSHED gives you the opportunity to do just that – build something really really cool, from scratch. The robotics section is a stellar example of the fun you could potentially be having with your own carefully crafted creation.

best gadget shopping sites

Children can really get a kick out of this one too, with a whole kids section bursting with fun projects that might actually teach them something. The company ships worldwide, providing you’re in the right country. You’re going to need to sign up for an account and check your country is listed to proceed.


Hopefully the list here of the best shopping sites for cool gadgets is enough to help you find that elusive electronic gift, gadget or activity. If you are ordering internationally then make sure you’re up to speed with the customs and import taxes you may have to pay.

Remember – unlike eBay sellers, retailers will not mark your purchase as a gift in order to avoid these charges. Shop wisely!

Picked up any cool bits of kit recently? Got any favourite gadget websites? Let us know, as usual!

Image Credit: Shutterstock

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5 Ways To Make Use Of Groupon

Posted: 19 Jan 2011 01:31 PM PST

groupon couponsI have to say right up front that I’ve never really been into coupon sites, shopping sites, or any other website on the web that is set up primarily to sell something. I really only resort to shopping online during Christmas to avoid the crowds. I rarely really find any deals that I would consider “amazing” online. Sure, you can save a bit if you purchase a computer or even a car through the Internet, but usually those discounts are no different or more than you’re offered in-store.

With that said, my entire attitude toward online deals changed when someone recently pointed me toward Groupon. Groupon is a site that is really difficult to describe, because it’s different than most other sites devoted to selling you something. Groupon stands apart because it offers different things to different people, so I’ve decided to go over the 5 coolest ways that you can make use of Groupon.

Sign In & Instantly Earn Cash

The entire point of Groupon is more of a “group” deal than just a discount site. It actually reminds me a little bit of eBay because each deal is only up for a limited time. Once the set minimum number of buyers purchase the deal, everyone receives the discount.

groupon coupons

Once you sign up with your email, you can start adding friends. While I really hate referring my friends to any sort of sales website, Groupon really is worth it. It takes me a lot to admit that, but after watching a few of the discounts show up – I was really surprised by how steep many of them are. Most of them are 40 to 70 percent off of things like local dining, spa treatments, store discounts and a lot more.

groupon website

For every friend you refer and that signs up, you get ten bucks in Groupon coupons. Now, if you think about that, that means every ten friends you convince to sign up with you, that’s a hundred dollars just to get started buying deals on Groupon.

Save Money At Local Businesses

The part that sets Groupon above the rest in my opinion is the fact that the deals are tailored to your geographic location.  Of course, add in the excitement of a limited time offer (right down to the ticking clock) and the need to get at least the minimum number of buyers, and it can get kind of exciting.

This means that you’re not going to see discounts to just national brands or major store chains, these are impressive deals that local businesses are offering.

Save Money On Gifts

Once you sign up and start buying “Groupons”, you can organize those in your account under “My Groupons“. You can also purchase Groupon coupons as gifts and send them to your friends. The cool thing about this is that you can purchase some pretty impressive gifts but you don’t have to spend a fortune.

groupon website

Now, if you really want to offer your friends an awesome gift, then pass on the savings to them. At the bottom of the main Groupon page, you’ll see a link for “Give the Gift of Groupon.” Click on that link, fill out the details and the amount you’d like to give and send your friends a Groupon credit.

groupon website

Why are Groupon coupons better than cash? Because it goes further. Your friend will be able to stretch that $25 gift certificate into a purchase worth $50 to $100. And don’t be fooled by my choice of currency – Groupon is available in 35 countries across the world.

Use Groupon For Your Business

I think the magic that will make Groupon even more popular moving forward is the fact that it makes everyone happy. Obviously, customers that can save over fifty percent off the cost of anything are usually pretty happy, but the business model of Groupon is pretty impressive as well. Basically, businesses don’t pay until they get paid. When you sign up to advertise, Groupon simply takes a commission of the sale and gives you the rest.

Getting featured on Groupon is as easy as clicking the “Groupon for your Business” link at the bottom of the main page.

groupon review

Fill out the form and you’re good to go.  If you don’t have anything to sell, but you wouldn’t mind making money by referring folks to Groupon, then you’ll be interested in their affiliate plan.

groupon review

You can even have the color format of the ad match the theme of your own site. This is what the ad will look like on your site.

groupon review

What makes it unique and useful to your website visitors is that the ads will automatically check for the location of your visitor, and then try to deliver deals from their local area.

Access Your Groupons On Your Mobile Device

Using Groupons becomes a lot more useful when you can use “paperless redemption” to cash in your purchased Groupon using your mobile device. All of the deals you purchased are stored on your phone where you can access them quickly without printing.

groupon coupons

While you’re on the go and looking for local deals, just search for nearby deals using the built-in GPS feature – it’s a cool, fast way to save money while you’re on the road.

Have you ever used Groupon? Which feature do you use the most and did you find any impressive deals through the service? Share your experience in the comments section below.

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Hot Tech Deals [Jan 19th]

Posted: 19 Jan 2011 12:15 PM PST

If you’re in the market for a new computer, laptop, mobile phone, games and other accessories; don’t waste your time searching online. We’ve taken the liberty of locating the best tech deals and unifying them into a single post for your convenience.

For more fresh hot deals, visit our Hot Tech Deals page, which is constantly updated.

  1. Panasonic TC-P46S2 46in Plasma HDTV (1080p) $709.99 Free Shipping
  2. PNY XLR8 6GB (3x2GB) DDR3-1600MHz PC3-12800 Desktop Memory $49.99AR Free Ship
  3. TODAY ONLY Sony KDL32EX40B 32 inch LCD HDTV w/ Built-in Blu-Ray Player $469.99 Free Ship
  4. TODAY ONLY Intel Pentium E6500 Wolfdale 2.93GHz CPU + MORE Super Combo $274.99
  5. Lacie Neil Poulton 1TB USB 2.0 External Hard Drive $69.99 Free Shipping
  6. Sharp LC-52D78UN 52 inch LCD HDTV (1080p, 120Hz) $949.99 Free Shipping

Image credit: Modified from Svengraph’s icon set

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5 Career Tools You Can Use To Pinpoint Your Career Aptitude

Posted: 19 Jan 2011 11:31 AM PST

career aptitude testVery few of us had any real idea of what we wanted to do as a career while growing up. Professional career counselors were an unknown breed and so it was sheer accident or just fate that most of us stumbled into our careers. The right career choice often is the difference between a mid-life crisis and a motivated life. A wise man's words should be the apt definition for the right kind of career – the supreme accomplishment is to blur the line between work and play.

So true! But how do we find out our attitude and aptitude for the right career? Deep thinking or godsend mentors are two ways. Some professional guidance is always well advised. But while you are waiting for all of these, why not take the help of some free career aptitude tests, tools and quizzes to decipher your personality traits and see what you would like to do with the next 30-40 years of your life?

Take them as fun tools or take them seriously…they just might reveal some things about the job you are meant to do.


career aptitude test

This is a nicely designed website that's all about career quizzes of all kinds. Some quizzes are plain fun (What's your perfect excuse?) while some tune into aspects of your hidden personality (the Classic IQ Test). An array of quizzes tests you on everything from finding out what you should major in to the fitness of your resume. The site is part of the well known network.

Career Path

free career aptitude test

For some career guidance, start off with finding out what the right career is for you. If you are already into the rat race, measure your level of satisfaction on the job with the Career Vision Job Satisfaction Quiz. Some of the tests like the Color Career Indicator might give you sample reports and not the full one, but even the free sample results give an insight.

Career InfoNet

free career aptitude test

The site is sponsored by the U.S Department of Labor and has tools which help both the student and the established professional. One of the useful tools is the Skills Profiler which helps you take stock of your skills and connect them to the right kind of jobs or further training. The video section also gives you a peek into the day to day life of a variety of professions.


free career aptitude test

The free online career aptitude test takes you through 100 questions that you can tick off in 15 minutes. All questions have to be rated with a choice of what you like the most and the least. The results can tell you your fitness for a particular type of career. The career service gives you the results in both graphical and text based forms. The site says that there are nearly 36,729 possible careers in North America and 284 academic majors you can pick from.

Monster's Career Tools

career aptitude test

The career tools on this international job site aren't in the quiz form but they help with insights into any career or job you might want to explore. Career Snapshots gives you direct information on what each job entails and important data on things like rate of industry growth, expected size of industry, number of similar profiles on the site etc. Career Benchmarking shows where you stand with regards to aspects like job benefits, work-life balance, and salary etc. Career Mapping is the beta-tool you might be immediately interested in to see how your career path is panning out.

The above five are just some of the tools which can help you define yourself and define the years you are going to spend in a job you want to enjoy. If you want to really know yourself, we can throw a barrage of resources towards you. Here are two –

How To Have Fun With Online Personality Quizzes – by Ann
Top 8 Websites With Cool Free Personality Traits Tests – by Mahendra

Armed with some self knowledge, you can dive into the job hunt with these -

5 Steps To Successfully Find Your Next Job Online – by Tina
5 Salary Comparison Tools For Your Next Job Search – by Saikat
5 Video Channels For Learning Basic Job Interview Skills – by Saikat

Have you made a deliberate effort to decide on your career or have you surrendered to your gut feeling? Let us know your take on these career guiding resources.

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How To Set Up Mozilla Thunderbird For Auto-Responses & Scheduled Emails

Posted: 19 Jan 2011 10:31 AM PST

how to set up mozilla thunderbirdSurrounded by so many great web mail services, we tend to forget that the most comfortable way to manage email (offline) is by using an email desktop client. Desktop clients also come with many features that are not available from their web counterparts such as advanced filtering options and the ability to expand the functionalities by adding extensions.

Recently, one of my friends who runs an education-related blog asked whether it’s possible to use his email client to auto-respond and schedule emails. He uses Mozilla Thunderbird – one of the most well known desktop email clients available today. It’s cross-platform, full featured, and free; and it would make a good candidate to show us how far a desktop client can go.

Note: The following examples were done using the Mac version of Thunderbird, but they are also applicable to the Windows version, albeit with a slightly different interface.

Setting Up An Auto-Response Filter

Why would anyone want to set up an auto response filter? With a little creativity, you could think of many uses for an auto-responder. Here are a few examples that crossed my mind:

  • To answer repeated questions from your customers, you could set several specific auto-responders for several different FAQ points
  • To notify your friends that you will be unreachable during your holiday break
  • To confirm that you’ve received your visitors’ messages and will reply to them as soon as possible.

The first step how to set up Mozilla Thunderbird with an auto-response filter is to create a message template.

  • To do so, go to the “File – New – Message” menu or use the shortcut key combination Ctrl + N (Windows) / Command + N (Mac).

how to set up mozilla thunderbird

  • Compose the message as if you are writing another ordinary email, set the topic and content according to what kind of response you want to send.

thunderbird filters

  • Then save the message as a template by going to the “File – Save As – Template” menu.

thunderbird filters

  • Repeat the process for other templates. Create as many templates as you need.

The second step is to set up the filtering system.

  • Go to the “Tools – Message Filters” menu.

thunderbird filters

  • A “Message Filters” window will open. Click the “New” button to create a new filter.

thunderbird auto reply

  • Then set some rules that will trigger the auto-responder. The first pane is the place to add some rules. You can add and delete as many rules as needed using the “+” and “-” (plus and minus) button respectively. Set it to filter specific strings in the Subject and To fields.

thunderbird auto reply

  • The lower pane is the place to set what action(s) should be performed if the above rules are met. For an auto-response filter, the most obvious action would be to reply to the filtered message using the pre-configured template. Choose “Reply With Template” and pick the template that you want to use.
  • Don’t forget to set the “Apply filter when:” drop down list to tell Thunderbird when it should run the auto-responder.

thunderbird scheduled emails

  • Click the “OK” button after you finish setting up the filter.

If you want to create other kinds of filters, here is the list of all the available filter rules that you can use. For example, use the “Date – After” and “Date – before” to set up a vacation mail. Set the start date to be the first day of your vacation and the end date to be the day you are coming back to the office.

02e Condition.jpg

And also the available actions.

02f Perform This Action.jpg

Creating A Scheduled Email

Another unique feature that you can enable in Thunderbird is creating scheduled emails. It means that you can create emails that will be sent on a specific time in the future. This feature would be really useful to send reminders, either to yourself, your friends, or to groups of people.

To enable this feature, we will need help from an add-on called Send Later.

  • Download the “.xpi” file to your hard drive and use the add-ons manager to install it.

04j Download Send Later 3.jpg

  • To open the add-ons manager, go to the “Tools – Add-ons” menu.

thunderbird scheduled emails

  • In the add-ons window, choose “Extensions” and click “Install“.

04c Add-ons.jpg

  • Locate the add-on, select it and finally click “Open” to install it.

04k Send Later.jpg

  • You need to go back to the add-ons window which will ask you to restart Thunderbird to complete the installation.

04l Restart To Complete.jpg

  • After restarting Thunderbird, create a new message. This one will be the one that you will send using the scheduled email feature. Then go to the “File ” menu and you will see a new sub-menu there: “Send Later“.

05a File - Send Later.jpg

  • Click the “Send Later” menu and a small option window will slide out from the message. This window is the place where you can specify the exact time to send the message. Click the “Send Later at specified time” button to schedule the message to be sent at the time that you’ve set before. You can also use the quick buttons to send the message “15 mins later“, “30 mins later“, or “2 hours later“.

how to set up mozilla thunderbird

The two examples above show us that you can use a desktop email client beyond the realm of reading and replying to emails. If you know of other creative uses of Thunderbird, please share them using the comments section below.

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7 Tools To Help You Develop A Solid Financial Savings Plan

Posted: 19 Jan 2011 09:31 AM PST

money saving tipsAlthough credit cards make it easy for us to purchase the things we want, we all know they can make our purchases harder to pay off. So why not consider developing a savings plan rather than an interest debt for your next major purchase or long-term goal? Whether you’re saving for college, retirement, a new computer, or a vacation, having a savings plan could help you achieve your goal.

There are several online calculators that work similar to using formulas in Excel spreadsheets. These calculators help you see more clearly how much money you can save over time by cutting back on spending or making better choices about the purchases you make. A savings plan means you may still buy the things you want or need, but you do so by not incurring more expenses.

Budgeting & Saving Using Mint

First off, in order to make your goal(s) attainable, you will probably need to budget your spending in order to start saving or increase your savings. One online service you might try for this entire budgeting and savings process is Mint. Back in June I reviewed how to use this free service to develop a budgeting plan. Since then, has added another feature, aptly called Goals.

money saving tips

Mint makes it super easy to set up a savings plan for nearly any type of goal, including paying off a debt, buying a car, taking a trip, buying a home, or saving for retirement. If none of their template plans fit your needs, you can customize your own.

tips on saving money will keep you updated about the progress of your savings plan. Setting up a account, a budget, and a savings account require a little time, but the site features work so well together that it's worth the effort.

Savings Calculator

Another calculator which you can use without registering an account is found on Dinkytown. This calculator includes formulations for college savings, a savings plan for buying a home, and how much you could possibly save by not smoking, drinking, or over shopping.

tips on saving money

It can even provide calculations for how much you might save each month by bagging your lunch instead of eating out. Want to make a cool million? It will show how to develop a savings plan for that too. When you actually see these numbers, it may very well make you realize how attainable your goals actually are. Matter of fact, the calculator will even show you how much it's costing you to delay any type of savings plan.

College Savings Planner

If you're looking to start a savings plan for your children's college education, you might take a look at Vanguard's College Savings Planner.

tips on saving money

The calculator provides a rough estimate of how much you will need to set aside based on the tuition (in-state or out-of-state) and the type of college your child might attend.

Savings With Interests

If you're looking to start a long-term savings plan, many online bank and credit unions includes savings calculators.

money saving ideas provides a really simple savings calculator that computes anticipated future savings based on an initial deposit, monthly savings, interest rates, and number of years. The site also provides tips for saving for college and paying off student loans.

Savings Calculator For Your Website

If your savings plan involves the visitors to your website, Frograte provides a set of formula calculations, including loan, mortgage, and credit card debts.

money saving ideas

Posting the calculations and code on your site may be useful for an organization involved in a collective savings plan. Frograte says that their “savings calculator is based on monthly compounding, check the details of your account for the compounding period. Accounts that are compounded daily, or yearly will vary slightly from the calculated results”.

Energy Savings Calculator

Developing a savings plan is just not limited to what you can set aside from your income. You might be able to save based on upgrading your refrigerator, or getting rid of your clunker and purchasing a new car.

money saving ideas provides a calculator to help you determine how much you might save by buying an energy savings refrigerator.

New vs Used Car Calculator

Similarly, if you're needing to purchase a car, provides a handy calculator for determining how much you might save buying a new car as opposed to a used one.

money saving tips

By using one of the above or similar calculators, you can get a more factual estimate of your savings goals as opposed to just guessing off the top of your head.

Let us know of other calculators and money saving tips you know about.

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DOWNLOAD Your PC Hardware Guide [PART 2]

Posted: 19 Jan 2011 09:00 AM PST

Even the best free software is useless without hardware, yet how many of us actually know how their computer works?

Teach yourself by reading the latest free guide from MakeUseOf: “Your PC, Inside and Out – Part 2.” You may download part 1 here.

You’ve already read part 1, so why not pick up on where author Lachlan Roy left off? Part 2 highlights everything you need to know about CPUs, storage devices, memory, graphics cards and other computer components.

DOWNLOAD Your PC: Inside and Out Part 2


Read online on Scribd

This amazing guide, part 2 of a two-part volume, explains everything you’ve ever wanted to know about the inner workings of a computer. In Part 2 you’ll learn:

  • What to look for in a hard drive
  • The difference between Solid State Drives and conventional drives
  • What RAM does, and why you might need more of it
  • The role of the CPU
  • Intel and AMD, compared
  • What all those stats in graphics card marketing mean
  • nVidia and ATI, compared
  • How to recognize the various other parts in your computer

DOWNLOAD Your PC: Inside and Out Part 2


Read online on Scribd


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QuietWrite – A Web-Based Minimal Writing App That Saves Your Writing Online

Posted: 19 Jan 2011 08:31 AM PST

save your writingA simple, web-based text editor that stays out of your way so you can write. QuietWrite offers this, and an online place to store the documents you’re working on. Whether you’re working on a blog post, a chapter in your novel or simply your grocery list, QuietWrite is a great tool if you want no-nonsense document editing with an attractive, cloud-based backend.

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but MakeUseOf kind of likes minimal writing tools. Perhaps it’s just writers writing about writing, but in the blogging age tools that are useful for writers are useful for just about everything. Distractions being everywhere, it’s nice to write in an application that stays out of your way and lets you write. We recently profiled FocusWriter, a minimal writing app you can customize. We even taught you how to turn Office 2007 into a minimalist text editor, although you can be the judge of how well that works.

If you want distraction-free writing in your browser however, I highly recommend QuietWrite. Set your browser to full screen and get ready to get things done.

Getting Started

Starting isn’t all that complicated; just head over to and click the “Start Writing” button. When you do you’ll be presented with your workspace:

save your writing

This is your main work area, and there’s not much to it; writing is all you can do here. Spell check is provided by your browser, assuming your browser offers it. Formatting isn’t possible. A word count can be found if you move your mouse to the top section of the window:

save your writing online

The best thing about this tool? It’s constantly saving your writing. As you type the information is sent to the cloud, meaning you could continue working even if something terrible happens to your computer. To take advantage of this feature, however, you’re really going to want a login account.

You can preview your document. This may seem useless in a minimal editor, but if you’re like me it isn’t. You see, I write my blog posts in HTML, and QuietWrite is actually the first editor that allows me to preview how my code will look before I copy it over to MakeUseOf. Having access to a quick preview function is a great way to spot mistakes.

User Accounts

Creating a login account couldn’t be simpler. When creating a document, move your mouse to the top of the window. Here you will leave an email address and a password and be done. You can now save your documents and retrieve them later. This is an excellent way to have access to your work regardless of where you are. Heck, it’s even a great alternative way to get writing done on the iPad.

You can also “publish” your writing, useful if you’re looking for a quick place to share something with a lot of people. Heck, there’s even an “explore” button you can use to find articles written by others, which is kind of neat.


Like the concept, but not a big fan of the color scheme? Don’t panic; you can customize the look of your writing area, to a certain extent. Move your mouse to the top of the browser window, then click “settings.” Here you can change you look:

save your writing

This being a browser, you’re limited in terms of font selection. Colors however, are pretty much any you can imagine.


I like this one. It’s minimalistic writing, brought to the cloud. You can use this to discreetly work on creative projects in the office, or for keeping your writing in the cloud so you can access it anywhere. Unlike WriteSpace, it works on every browser and syncs with the cloud.

What do you think? Is this a worthwhile tool, or just yet another minimal writing application? As always you can fill us in; type your thoughts in the box below.

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Netgear ReadyNAS Ultra 4 Review and Giveaway

Posted: 19 Jan 2011 08:00 AM PST

Yesterday, we reviewed Synology’s DS411j and were greatly impressed by its intuitive GUI. And while the DS411j is mostly geared towards average home users, the NAS device that we will be looking at today is targeted at power users who demand higher performance over ease-of-use.

Netgear’s ReadyNAS Ultra 4 is available in both diskless ($699.99) and 2 x 2 TB ($999.99) configurations. We received a diskless unit from Netgear and will be taking a closer look at almost every aspect of the NAS shortly. We’ll also be giving away the review unit so stick around.

At $699.99 for the diskless unit, it’s exactly the same price as Data Robotic’s Drobo FS. And even though the Drobo FS can accommodate 5 disks as opposed to the ReadyNAS Ultra 4′s four disk array, the ReadyNAS has several features pulling it ahead.

Even though the ReadyNAS Ultra 4 is the slimmest of all the NAS devices featured in this mega giveaway, it is also the heaviest — weight at 10.35 lbs (almost 5 kg) without any disks installed. Its weight is mainly attributed to its solid metal construction.

At the front, you’ll find the usual suspects: a power button, and several activity indicator lights, a USB port and backup button, a backup status light, a metal grill and finally, a OLED panel display at the bottom.


The front metal grill swings open to reveal the 4 hot-swappable drive array (max 8 TB) and drive trays that lock into place via a latch. This allows for easy access to drives without any tools required other than a screwdriver to attach the drive onto the metal drive tray.


The very first thing you’ll notice at the back is a large metal handle. I assume they had to include it because the ReadyNAS Ultra 4 is just so darn heavy. There are 2 USB 2.0 ports which can be connected to UPS devices, printers, etc (no eSATA interfaces to be found), a system reset button, 2 gigabit ethernet ports, a fan grill, a power inlet and Kensington lock port.


If you’re wondering why it has 2 ethernet ports, I’ll try my best to explain without introducing too much jargon. In most NAS devices that feature 2 ethernet ports, they can be teamed together resulting in one connection to the router. This increases the link speed beyond the limits of a single, regular connection and also provides redundancy in case a connection fails. However, the ReadyNAS Ultra 4 does not have this feature. Instead, the 2 ethernet ports allow you to connect to 2 different subnet groups so that the NAS can be accessed from 2 different locations.

Utimately, if you’re a home user, you’ll most likely only be using one of the 2 network interfaces.

The ReadyNAS Ultra 4 features a 1.6 GHz Intel Atom single-core with 1 GB DDR SODIMM upgradeable memory.


Installation of the ReadyNAS Ultra 4 involves plugging the power and network cable into the device and powering it on. The NAS will automatically negotiate for an IP address. Before you can start using it though, you will have to configure the device like we did in the previous reviews.

Netgear provides a desktop utility cleverly named RAIDar. Once the NAS obtains an IP address, RAIDar will automatically detect it.

Screen shot 2010-12-14 at 10.16.22 PM.png

On initial setup, you’ll have the option to choose between Netgear’s X-RAID2 (comparable to Synology’s Hybrid RAID and Drobo’s BeyondRAID technology) which provides single disk redundancy and auto-expanding RAID capabilities; or you could manually configure it to RAID levels 0, 1, or 5. It does not support non-RAID configurations like JBOD.

Screen shot 2010-12-14 at 10.19.06 PM.png


The ReadyNAS Ultra 4 accessible, hot-swappable front drive array coupled with X-RAID2 technology makes it pretty easy to upgrade. While the system is powered on, remove the lowest capacity drive for a larger one and wait for the data to redistribute. Depending on the amount of data stored, the redistribution process could take up to 10 hours and is indicated by the front OLED display. Allow that to complete before swapping another drive from the array because X-RAID2 only provides 1 disk redundancy. Luckily, the process transparent so you can go about using the NAS simultaneously.


Like most Netgear products, the ReadyNAS Ultra 4 is managed via a web interface.

Screen shot 2010-12-14 at 10.25.19 PM.jpg

Unfortunately, it utilises an archaic frames interface as opposed to an AJAX GUI like the one used by Synology. As a result, jumping back and forth between settings isn’t easy. The lack of a GUI also means that it is quite unintuitive.

Screen shot 2010-12-14 at 10.27.48 PM.jpg

The ReadyNAS Ultra 4 doesn’t come installed with much. You’ll get a DLNA media streamer, TiVo support, power scheduler, support for external USB hard drives, printers and webcams, UPS support, among others. But where the ReadyNAS really shines is its backup functionality.

This device is able to backup to and from almost anywhere. You could backup any folder from a computer, enable Time Machine on Apple computers or using the Backup button on the ReadyNAS unit. It is also capable of backing up to attached USB drives, networked shares and other ReadyNAS devices on the network. Every ReadyNAS Ultra 4 also comes 2 GB of ReadyNAS Vault Online Backup, free for 2 years.


The ReadyNAS Ultra 4 may not be for everyone, especially considering the fact that it isn’t easy to manage. However, once you have the system up and running, it’s pretty rewarding. The ReadyNAS Ultra 4 beat most of the home/prosumer NAS devices on the market with its astounding throughput performance, as shown in a CNET review. Plus, it comes with a 3-year warranty.

We’re giving away this review unit without any drives. If you’re keen to get your hands on it, here’s how.

How do I become a winner?

It’s simple, just follow the instructions.

Join our Facebook page by clicking the Like button or you can follow us on Twitter, if you prefer. If you’re already following us, you may skip this step.

If you can’t see the fanbox, click on this link.

Here’s our giveaway form. Please fill it in accurately. Be sure to enter your real name and email address so that we can get in touch if you are chosen as a winner. Click here if you can’t view the form.

You’re almost done. Now, all that’s left to do is to share the post. There are 2 options to choose from or you can do both!

Like it on Facebook

Or share it on Twitter

And that’s it! You’re done!
Giveaway eligibility
You must be a fan of our Facebook page to enter;
Individuals who are over the age of 18. If you are under 18, get your parents to participate on your behalf;
Individuals who reside in a country embargoed by the United States; Belgium, Norway, Sweden, or India are not permitted to enter.

This giveaway begins now and ends Friday, February 18th at 2100hrs PST. The winners will be selected at random and announced via email.

Spread the word to your friends and have fun!

MakeUseOf would like to thank Netgear for their generosity while participating in this giveaway. Interesting in sponsoring? We’d love to hear from you. Get in touch with us via email.

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Share Little-Known Facts About Yourself With Facto

Posted: 19 Jan 2011 07:31 AM PST

facts about yourselfLast month, I introduced you to Formspring, which offers the ability to ask users questions on anything you want in order to learn about them. It enables you to “ask me anything”, remember? It’s very addictive.

Well the reason I’m bringing this up now is because Facto is like a reverse-Formspring, although it’s equally addictive. By “reverse-Formspring”, I mean that instead of users asking you questions to find out more about you, you can list little-known facts about yourself for them to see. Facts that you cook up are easily shareable via social networks like Twitter and friends can come and let you know what they think by clicking a few choice options.

Who’s Behind Facto?

Facto was created by Kyle Bragger, maker of Forrst, which is a community for designers and developers. Kyle, who I know personally through working at VaynerMedia (full disclosure), developed Facto from concept to reality in a mere 24 hours, and has already received press from other mainstream blogs shortly after Facto went live.

Kyle blogged about the whole process on his personal site, so if you feel so inclined, I invite you to check it out.

How Do I Get Started With Facto?

facts about yourself

To start utilizing Facto (directory listing), head over to the homepage and list a fact about yourself. I know this may seem hard, so here are some examples.

Once you’ve added your first fact, you can snag your username and create your account.

facts about your life

Start adding facts one by one and optionally tweeting them out to Twitter and sharing them on Facebook with your friends. You can also share a link to your profile page on Twitter or Tumblr if you so choose.

facts about your life

Everyone who visits your profile page will see a random fact that you’ve added, like “My favorite animal is a monkey“, or “I never got my driver’s license“. Below the fact, users will be able to click a button expressing their reaction to it.

facts about your life

Button choices include Knew that!, Didn’t know that, Me too!, Awesome, Whoa, Weird!, Boring, and No way. When somebody clicks on one of those reactions, their profile picture will be placed beside their vote for others to see, and you can click the picture to be taken to that user’s profile.

facts about yourself

If you would like to see all of a person’s facts at once, there is a link for that on their profile page, too.


I really like the idea of getting to know people better by learning interesting facts about them. It differs from Formspring for me in that some of the types of facts I’ve seen on Facto are about things I would have never thought to ask a person on Formspring, which makes it great I think.

So whether or not you can think of a lot of interesting facts about yourself to share, you should at least have fun reading everybody else’s. One option I failed to mention above was the ability to enable others to list facts about you, so if you think your best friends know more about you than even you do, by all means invite them to join in on the fun.

What do you think of this concept? Are you going to create an account on Facto?

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